The Germans never envisioned Locarno (1925) as a solution to Versailles or as a suitable restoration of her rights among nations. At best it was viewed as a means to an end, the first step towards normalization with the west, with the eventual settlement to be reached in Eastern Europe (it intentionally left out any border guarantees in the east with Poland or the Czechs).
To illustrate the view of the military prior to the rise of National Socialism, which was a viewed shared by a large percentage of the political parties (no party looked towards Poland’s frontier as permanent), all one has to do is look at the rearmament plans the Army began, first September 1928 through 1932, which was designed to modernize the defensive capabilities of the German Army. This was followed by Schleicher’s more ambitious plan of November 1932 to expand the Army (actual spending of which occurred under Hitler, – his initial rearmament funds, and plans, came from his predecessor).
With the expectation that war was an eventuality in the east, if not from German aggression seeking restoration, then from aggression from Poland seeking status quo (a real possibility as 1933 proved), the German Army put much of its effort into being prepared on its eastern frontier. One such example was the German Army asking Mauser Oberndorf to investigate the possibilities of converting Nagant 91 and Steyr M95 rifles to the German 7.92 mm cartridge. It was envisioned that in a future conflict it was likely many would be captured and these rifles could be put to use in support and police functions in the German Army.
Naturally, Poland and the Czechs were not the target of this program, both used M98 rifles that were largely interchangeable for German service, – these plans were for rifles primarily in service in southeastern Europe, Austria, Hungry, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria and of course the USSR (Russia).
Mauser was very familiar with this practice; in 1889-1893 Mauser had done similar modifications to rifles for interested customers. The cost of such conversions was estimated at half the cost of a new rifle (60-70 RM), but naturally this would cause a disruption at the time new rifles were needed most. In the end, little came of the project, although it was an interesting experiment, it was impractical because as experience showed, along with captured rifles, came captured ammunition and the Germans had considerable experience with reusing them without conversion. There was no justification to go through the trouble, and expense, when the rifles could be used in the desired support position as they were captured.
Thanks to Jon Speed, we have some details of this program, both dealing with conversions of Nagant 91’s and Steyr M95’s in Rumanian service. Both of which were experimented with and successful conversions made during 1932. It is unknown where the test rifles came from, but Jon Speed stated they were readily available and that the Mauser’s reference collection had examples at the time.
Some of the details illustrated in the pictures (by Jon Speed):
Barrels form both rifles were re-bored and chambered or even new barrels were made up. Work was required on bolt heads, magazine boxes, receivers; German tangent sights were fitted, stocks modified etc. Shooting tests were completed on finalized examples and all proven to shoot within acceptable ranges. The conversions cost app. half of what any new manufactured arms. Data from images as follows-
1-Cover of Conversion book Nagant 91
2-Parts that required some level of modification
3- Bolt face Extractor clearance specs.
4-magzine housing changes
6- Total system
9-Parts list with in Red dimension changes of barrel , sights etc.
10- Shooting velocity tests